Pope Innocent III: The First Crusade

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In 1095, Pope Urban II called the Council of Clermont to enact important reforms in the Roman Catholic Church. At that council, he gave a speech in which he challenged the lords of Europe to combine their forces to reclaim the Holy Land from its Muslim conquerors.

In 1096, a French monk named Peter the Hermit pulled together a disorganized army of peasants and soldiers with his fiery sermons. Together, they plunged eastward toward Constantinople in what came to be known as the People’s Crusade.

1097, all four armies had reached Constantinople, where they formed a combined fighting force that numbered nearly 30,000. With a promise to restore any lands that they conquered to the Byzantine emperor, the Crusaders rallied and continued eastward
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This Crusade failed to rouse any monarchs. Led largely by French knights, the Crusade set out for the Holy Land in 1202 only to be distracted by Venetian lords who convinced them to capture the wealth and splendor of Eastern Orthodox Constantinople instead.

The Fifth Crusade, led by King Andrew II of Hungary, went first to the Holy Land and then to Egypt, but failed. Angry at the outcome of the Fifth Crusade,
Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire led the Sixth Crusade, which succeeded in reclaiming the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1228. However, the kingdom was plagued by civil war that made it vulnerable to Muslim attack. After 1244, Jerusalem would never again fall under Christian rule-but that did not stop the Crusaders from trying.

King Louis IX of France led two more expeditions, grouped together as the Seventh Crusade, which failed to make any territorial gains. The last stronghold of Christendom in the Holy Land, Acre, fell to the Mamluk Empire in 1291.

In 1212, religious zeal as well as poverty gave rise to what came to be known as the Children’s Crusade. Although historians debate the events and the participants surrounding this phenomenon, most agree that at least two youths from France and Germany did set in motion an unusual expedition to the Holy Land that
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